Hilary Duff, Sutton Foster (TV Land)

In “Beyond Therapy,” Liza’s life experience may benefit her work life, but she finds that she can’t outsmart every obstacle in her personal life. Camryn Manheim guests as the typical psychologist with a podcast, the latest wannabe author being courted by Empirical. Her character comes across as more of a plot device than an actual character, embodying the perspective of those who believe that life must be lived according to a strict timeline. Kelsey is rattled by this idea, which prompts her to reevaluate Thad’s role in her life. She envisions her own path to success so she wants to make sure that Thad fits the criteria of the type of man she should be committed to in her 20s. Liza plays devil’s advocate, arguing that the best path isn’t easily predicted; sometimes improvisation is not only necessary but preferential. Of course, Kelsey doesn’t know that Liza is speaking from experience because she’s still ignorant of Liza’s true age and history.

Advertisement

Liza’s secret isn’t publicly exposed in this episode, but keeping that secret comes at a cost. The first hurdle she faces returns in the guise of Sheryl Sussman, a recurring enemy and frequent publishing rival. Liza thwarts her attempts at blackmail by divulging her secret during a therapy session, winning the psychologist as a client in exchange for her anonymous story. It would be helpful to have more of an insight into how exactly Liza’s life experience has prepared her to navigate these types of political professional situations. What is evident is that Liza’s life experience hasn’t prepared her for the implosion of her relationship with Josh.

A parallel is set up between Liza’s relationship and Kelsey’s relationship in this episode, with both Josh and Kelsey finding themselves at a crossroads where a choice needs to be made. Kelsey sees meeting her boyfriend’s boss as a step forward in her relationship, and when Thad falls short during this test, she decides to bail on their relationship in order to protect her future. Oddly enough, this decision impacts not only Kelsey’s love life, but Liza’s as well, when a few too many birthday drinks lead to an impulsive outburst. The close bond between Kelsey and Liza that contributes to their success at work can also be a detriment when they’re off the clock; they are very protective of one another, which can be beneficial, but also has drawbacks when boundaries are crossed. Younger is interested in the dynamics of friendship, and one that it tends to explore is the fine line between productive honesty and unwarranted invasions of privacy. Those who mean well can still do more damage than good when they inject themselves into situations that they don’t truly understand, and here, alcohol but bitterness towards Thad inspire Kelsey to lash out at Josh when she latches onto a reason to suspect that he isn’t meeting Liza’s criteria.

Personal bias and traditional gender roles may both contribute to the fact that Kelsey mistakenly assumes that it’s Josh who is unwilling to commit to Liza when it’s the other way around. Liza isn’t willing to sacrifice her secret identity in order to make an honest boyfriend out of Josh; the way Josh sees it, Liza hesitates to appear in a newspaper profile as his girlfriend because her commitment to a lie is more important to her than her commitment to him. Josh realizes that the lie has gotten out of hand when it affects the way that friends see him, causing Kelsey to publicly disparage his character thinking she’s protecting her friend from heartbreak. Instead, Josh realizes that it’s he who needs to protect himself, and he breaks up with Liza. Of course he does so right before Thad interrupts Kelsey’s birthday with a proposal, having realized that he’s interested in taking the next step in their relationship in order to keep her in his life.

Advertisement

At that moment, Liza seems to realize that she hasn’t truly considered what she’s willing to sacrifice for Josh until it’s too late. It still isn’t clear how she feels about him or commitment in general at this stage in the game, but it does seem that she’s revisiting her own advice to Kelsey about not living necessarily living life according to plan. Liza just earned a client by acknowledging the fact that she’s getting a second chance at her 20s, but what is she going to do with that chance? And how many opportunities will she have to get it right, whatever “right” even means? Regardless, Josh is starting to take stock of what’s right for him on his first go-around. He isn’t high enough on Liza’s list of priorities, and as such she no longer meets his list of criteria. By the end of the episode, Kelsey decides to invest in a lifetime with Thad when she’s asked to reassess their chances while Liza finds herself no longer having a say in the future of her relationship at all.

Stray observations:

  • “I have missed you, Single Kelsey”
  • “T Magazine?”
  • Is Diana’s necklace an accessory or a door knocker? In this episode, one door opens while another closes, and Diana thoughtfully wanted her wardrobe to reaffirm the theme.

Advertisement